Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 6:04 EDT
Globular star cluster NGC 1851
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Globular star cluster NGC 1851

October 25, 2013
A single-pointing, two-band, near-infrared image of the globular star cluster NGC 1851, obtained with the Gemini South Telescope's Gemini Multi-conjugate Adaptive Optics System (GeMS)/Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GSAOI). This ancient star cluster is located some 40,000 light-years from the sun. All globular star clusters have a very high density of stars. "Peering deep into them to look at the faintest stars requires high spatial resolution. Its essential," says principal investigator Alan McConnachie of Canadas Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (formerly the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics). McConnachie wants to gain a better understanding of the clusters stellar population, particularly its age, any evidence of multiple stellar populations, and the distribution of low mass stars. "We want to push the capabilities of GeMS to the limit so that we can determine the internal dynamics of globular clusters and understand how best to use multi-conjugate adaptive optics (MCAO) for precision astrometry and photometry," he says. "After all, MCAO is a key capability for the future of ground-based astronomy through its use in the 30 meter telescope, and GeMS is allowing us to peek into that future and get a head start!" [Technical Data: The image, made from J and Ks filters, was assigned the colors blue and orange, respectively. The field of view is 0.9 x 0.9 arcminutes and is oriented with north up. The total (integrated) exposure time was about 123 minutes cumulative for all filters. Image data from Alan McConnachie, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics. Color composite image by Travis Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage.] Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA